The husband of a nurse who cared for Whakaari/White Island victims before she was killed in a car crash says he feels like half of him is gone.
Rhys Bugden said he had lost his soulmate Sheila Bugden (nee Cheng) in the crash on December 14, 2019.
Now the man responsible for the death of the intensive care nurse has been sentenced to 200 hours' community work, disqualified from driving for 12 months and ordered to pay $11,000 in emotional harm reparation by Judge Maree McKenzie.
Anthony Paul Jacobus McMillan, 54, a church pastor from Whakatāne, previously entered guilty pleas to one charge of careless driving causing Sheila Bugden's death and four charges of careless driving causing injury to William Kirk, Rhys Bugden, Michelle Lee and a child.
The reparation was made up of $5000 for Rhys Bugden and $2000 for each of the three other surviving victims.
The crash happened about 3.30pm on December 14 after McMillan, who was travelling on State Highway 30 towards Rotorua, crossed the centre line on a right-hand bend near Hell's Gate. He crashed head-on into the vehicle the other five people were travelling in.
The five victims were travelling from Rotorua to Whakatāne after a day seeing the sight as a way to help Sheila Bugden wind down after a tough week working in Whakatane Hospital's ICU treating burns victims from the Whakaari/White Island eruption.
Today in court McMillan's lawyer Tim Braithwaite said McMillan remembered feeling chest pains before blacking out and he woke up as he was being pulled from his vehicle.
Sheila Bugden, who was in the back seat of the other vehicle, died at the scene. Her husband Rhys, 50, was left critically injured when he suffered a tear of the small bowel, punctured terminal ileum, multiple bowel injuries, torn colon and mesenteric haematoma.
The driver of the car McMillan hit, William Kirk, suffered a lumbar spine fracture, sore ankle, chest pain, several cuts to his hands and knees, lower sternal tenderness, bruising to lower abdomen and cut to left-hand index finger joint down to tendon sheath.
Michelle Lee, who was the rear right seat passenger, suffered several broken ribs, two fractures in her sternum, two fractures in her neck, bruising and possible punctured lungs and a broken back.
A child who was sitting in the middle of the back seat and 7 years old at the time, suffered internal bleeding, a head injury, bruising to the head and body and an eye injury.
Rhys Bugden read his victim impact statement in court today through tears.
He described how he had always wanted to get married and he finally married Sheila at age 45.
"Now I'm 50 and I'm single again.
"I'm missing my wife she was my soulmate and it feels like half of me is gone."
He described his recovery from injuries including internal injuries, stomach operations requiring a stoma bag for eight months, concussion, rib pain, influence and medicinal side effects.
"I found out later I almost died.
"While at home I had side effects from the medicine it was hard to focus ... I couldn't sleep from the pain of missing my wife.
"The sadness became unbearable."
He said the accident replayed in his mind and the Covid-19 lockdown meant he had to self-isolate at a time when he needed others most.
The other people in the car with the Bugdens were Michelle Lee, her fiance William Kirk and the child.
Lee, who was 38 at the time of the crash, suffered several broken ribs, two fractures in her sternum, two fractures in her neck, bruising and possible punctured lungs and a broken back.
In court, she said the scars from the injuries reminded her of the crash daily.
"The day I was holding on to Sheila's hand calling out her name and begging her to wake up as she was resuscitated."
Lee said she now struggled to concentrate, felt anxiety, and suffered financially and physically.
"A relaxing trip after Sheila tirelessly provided intensive care for Whakaari victims turned into a nightmare.
"Our hearts have broken into pieces."
Lee's fiance Kirk, who was driving the other vehicle, described giving the child CPR.
He said he still had flashbacks and was angry at himself for not protecting the passengers.
Speaking directly to McMillan, Kirk said "I know you and your family pastor Anthony McMillan".
"I was born in bred in Kawerau just like you. I was in the same class as your older brother. We worked together for 12 years at the mill.
"These actions of yours turned my heart black with anger."
He labelled McMillan "cold-hearted" and a "coward" for taking almost a year to plead guilty.
"You have let your own family down and are an utter disgrace to your religion and church. I have no sympathy for you and will never forgive you for what you have done.
"Our future changed in ways we cannot fathom yet."
The victim impact statement of Amanda Kirk, William Kirk's daughter was read on her behalf.
Amanda and William Kirk, Lee and Rhys Bugden all said the crash had affected their abilities to work affecting them financially.
McMillan's lawyer Tim Braithwaite said McMillan had been diagnosed with sleep apnoea after the crash and suffered from crippling anxiety and depression.
"He now hides away. This is a far cry of the confident pastor of the past."
Judge Maree McKenzie said the psychological scars from the crash clearly ran deep.
"For Mr Bugden the consequences of the crash are catastrophic. He lost his wife and soulmate.
"There are long-lasting consequences in terms of his physical health and emotional wellbeing."
She acknowledged the victims' trauma had been made worse by the long court process and described their victim impact statements as "raw", "emotional," and "harrowing".
She said she hoped the culmination of the court process would provide some closure.